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The Patterns of Migration and Occupation in a South Gujarat Village

Item Code: NAM211
Author: I. P. Desai
Publisher: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute
Language: English
Edition: 1964
Pages: 174
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
Weight 320 gm
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Book Description

On the 15th of October 1964 the Deccan College celebrates the centenary of its main Building, and curiously enough this period coincides with the Silver Jubilee of the Postgraduate and Research Institute which, as successor to the Deccan College started functioning from 17th August 1939 when members of the teaching faculty reported on duty. When I suggested to members of our faculty the novel idea that the centenary should be celebrated by the publication of a hundred monographs representing the research carried on under the auspices of the Deccan College in its several departments, they readily accepted the suggestion. These contributions are from present and past faculty members and research scholars of the Deccan College, giving a cross-section of the manifold research that it has sponsored during the past twenty-five years. From small beginnings in 1939 the Deccan College has now grown into a well developed and developing Research Institute and become a national centre in so far as Linguistics, Archaeology and Ancient Indian History, and Anthropology and Sociology are concerned. Its international status is attested by the location of the Indian Institute of German Studies (jointly sponsored by Deccan College and the Goethe Institute of Munich), the American Institute of Indian Studies and a branch of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient in the campus of the Deccan College. The century of monographs not only symbolises the centenary of the original building and the silver jubilee of the Research Institute, but also the new spirit of critical enquiry and the promise of more to come.



The Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute wanted a monograph from all those who were connected with it from its inception as Deccan College more than a hundred year ago. I felt that I had a moral obligation to the institution where I began my research career in 1951. I was there for only two years and a half. But I shall always remember the facilities and freedom for research and the adjustment of teaching and research in that institute. I shall never get them anywhere else. That was my experience as one in the lower-most position in the hierarchy.

I had to complete the monograph in a scheduled time. But Dr. KATRE who was indulgent to me while I was in the institute, was again indulgent and allowed me some more time and I could give some shape to the monograph which is more in the nature of notes and remarks. It is not a finished product.

I thank my research assistant Mr. G. J. PATEL who has been extremely helpful to me from June, 1963 upto the completion of the monograph in January, 1964.



The Sociologists are interested in the phenomenon of migration for the consequences that it has on the interactions or the social relationships among the people under observation. Out of the whole gamut of relationships we mark out some institutionalised relationships for observation. We observe the people at two ends, the place from which they migrate and the place to which they migrate. We inquire what differences can be observed in the behaviour of individuals with reference to the particular relationships and in the aspirations and ambitions (goals) of individuals and their expectations of one another (roles). We can combine both these under the common term and observe the differences in the orientation of actions with reference to each of them.

While observing the migrants in this way, we are observing them in relation with the people of the place to which they migrate and from which they migrate and inquire how each is affected by the other in the respective areas of relationships. If we find the differences among both these people before and after migration, we attribute them to migration. If there are no differences, we say that migration had no effect. Thus we evaluate migration as a factor of social change.

Now this phenomenon called migration is observed in terms of the number of people who migrate and we refer to it as magnitude. We refer to it as the rate of migration when we observe the increase or decrease in this number in relation with such other variables as time or place. This is the quantitative aspect of migration. We generally refer to the age, sex, education, occupation and social status of the migrants etc. as the qualitative aspects of migration. But we must remember that age and sex are biological characteristics and they have importance for it in so far as we relate them to the social relationships.

The present inquiry is not a comprehensive inquiry involving all the questions mentioned above. It is also not claimed that it contributes substantially to anyone of them. Most of our studies in India attend to the quantitative and demographic aspects of migration and their effect on the size, density and the biological composition of the population of the places to which the people migrate. They assume sociological dimensions when they are studied under such heads as social change and urbanisation and more specifically when the effects on the size and type of family, the caste and education etc. are also observed. It is also the common practice to search for the causes of migration by finding the occupation and income of the migrants in the places from which they come. The causes of migration are generally said to be economic stress at home, spirit of adventure, lure of the city etc. Our inquiry is also not concerned with either finding out the causes in this way and verifying whether these are true or not.

Apart from the social obligation, as mentioned in the preface, the only academic justification for publishing this inquiry is that it concerns the place from which the people migrate, namely a village. We inquire what is the occupation and social status of the people who migrate, the period during which they migrate and the places to which they migrate and their activities to earn the livelihood there and whether they settle there or return to the place of their origin.

These questions have their relevance for the magnitude and rate of migration, the spatial direction of migration, deviation from the family or the past occupation and the alternative occupational possibilities and how the people of different social groups and occupations in the village react to them.

Such an inquiry at best can be a preparation for the inquiry into the orientations of the actions of the people.

Migration and occupational deviations:

The terms migration and occupation are used in a very broad sense. By migration we mean here any movement from the village by an individual to an outside place to earn the livelihood.

We have noted separately those who settled elsewhere and those who are still outside the village and are likely to return to the village or not. Those who have returned are also noted separately.

We have observed the place to which the persons moved. The places are classified into: (1) places within the district. These places could have been divided into urban and rural: but since most of the persons have moved to the towns in the district, we did not classify them into urban and rural, though we have made a note about the cases of movement from one village to another. (2) Outside the district, but within the present Gujarat State which is also the linguistic area. Again, we have not further classified these places into urban and rural for the same reasons mentioned above. (3) Places outside the Gujarat State. These places could be anywhere in the rest of India. However, as a matter of fact, the largest concentration is in Bombay and we have mentioned this class as Bombay and outside Bombay. (4) Those who went outside India. This category includes Africa and also Burma which was once a part of British India. (5) Those who have left the village and have settled elsewhere.

The period during which the persons moved is the span of about sixty years between 1900 and 1963. This span we have divided into three periods. The first period is between 1900 and 1920. The second period is between 1920 and 1940. And the third period is between 1940 and 1960-63. The first period ends with the end of World War I. The second period ends with the beginning of the World War 11. The Third period sees the end of the World War 11 towards the end of its first decade and the beginning of India as the free national state in 1947.

The first period is marked by the first major industrial development. The second period is marked both by economic boom and depression. The industrial development only continued but did not grow much. The third period is marked by an unprecedented industrial growth and the growth of government administrative set up. The periods are thus not arbitrary divisions.

The magnitude and the rate could be expected to be related to the periods in this way through the industrial development. The magnitude and rate of migration can be expected to be the function of the opportunities of earning the livelihood alternative to those in the village. It should be emphasised that these periods cannot be used as variables indicating the growth of job opportunities except in a very broad sense. Other indices for the growth of job opportunities have to be found.

The places to which the people moved are the places where job opportunities are available. Our classification of the places is geographical, administrative and linguistic. If we add the dimension of job opportunities, we could expect that larger the number and varieties of job opportunities in nearby places, greater the possibility of persons of different abilities to avail of them. An unskilled agricultural labourer can easily move out to a nearby town. Therefore, who moves where, to do what, should be very instructive questions for observing the pattern of migration.

The existence and growth of job opportunities and peoples' availing of them are two different matters. We have not noted the actual jobs that those who moved out performed. It was not possible for us to get as precise information as necessary. But we have classified their activities into four broad divisions: (1) White collar, (2) Technological, (3) Traditional artisan and (4) Non-agricultural unskilled manual work. These types of jobs are different from those available in rural area. They are available in urban areas and some of them require education and training. They will have different status significance and they will be indicative of new social differentiation.

The job opportunities available to the persons of different social groups of the village are the same in the places where they moved. But firstly, all persons from the village do not move out of the village to avail of them in any period. Secondly, the number of persons moving out from different social groups may be different. It will be interesting to observe the practically single caste villages in this regard. Thirdly, the jobs that different social groups (castes) take up may be the same or different. These may vary according to periods. We have said that these periods have a significance for the number of different types of job opportunities available. But the persons availing them may vary according to the social groups. A person will think of availing a job in terms of his physical and educational equipment or work bench experience and his status. His inclinations and ambitions will also be limited by these facts. In the village in all these respects the different social groups are differently placed. The position that a group occupies in these respects can be expected to enter into the jobs that people actually avail of. Varieties in these matters will also show the variations in the types of jobs availed of.

The most effective and recognisable social groups in the village are the castes. In a village it is generally true that the members of the same caste follow the same occupations or some occupations only are followed by the members of the same caste. But the castes which are required to do certain occupations by custom are only the artisan and other castes under the jajmani system. Occupations such as agricultural labour or agriculture as supervisor-owner or tiller-owner are open to all castes and all castes are open to them. This is true in spite of the fact that certain castes are only agricultural labourers and certain others are only tiller-owner or supervisory-owner agriculturists. Therefore, the attachment to the traditional or ancestral occupation as a feature of the caste system could be expected to be effective in the choice of new occupations in the case of some castes only. In the new situation, therefore, we should expect people to choose their occupation more in terms of material and non-material returns than in terms of ancestral occupation. If however certain castes are observed to go into certain occupations only, the fact should be explainable by the other facts such as physical equipment, work bench experience already gained, educational equipment and status. The ambitions of a person including educational ambitions will be conditioned by the stratum to which he belongs. Hence the distance at which a person's stratum (caste in this case) is placed from the facilities for equipping for the new occupations that will enter into the actual availing of the jobs rather than the ritual distance of a caste. It does not happen that the castes in ritualistically lower positions in the caste hierarchy have also occupations of lower status and that their ambitions were also conditioned by their lower status and that they were also at a longer distance from the facilities of equipment for new occupations. Therefore certain castes do go into certain occupations, but for the reasons which are also historical and not purely cultural. If this is true, the castes which avail of the facilities for equipment, e.g., education should show a marked deviation from the occupations which they followed as a group. The occupational deviation within a caste will depend on the education in that caste irrespective of its ritual status. This deviation will lead to migration from the village and from traditional occupation and ambition.




Section I    
(i) Introduction 1
(ii) The Village 7
(iii) Notes on the Tables 11
Section II Evidence on Castes  
(i) The Anavils 16
(ii) The Tailors 82
(iii) The Carpenters 90
(iv) The Kolis 98
(v) The Dublas or Halpatis 125
(vi) The Scheduled Castes-Dheds 141
  -Khalpas 148
Section III    
  Concluding Observations on the Village 155
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